Mon 26 Mar 2012
Dedicated to one grape, Archery Summit, in the Dundee Hills of Oregon’s Willamette Valley region, has amassed an enviable reputation for pinot noir wines of impressive substance, tone and purity, at the same time as they seem to reflect the character of their single vineyards while projecting a somewhat heightened sense of stylish individuality. The winery was founded in 1993 by Gary Andrus and partners of Pine Ridge Winery in Napa Valley. The winery building, with its aging caves underneath, was finished in 1995. Winemaker is Anna Matzinger. Archery Summit pinots are built to impress, with prices to match, yet they tend to offer a wide range of subtlety and nuance along with their broad and deep dimensions. It was a pleasure to try them. These were samples for review.
Archery Summit Premier Cuvee Pinot Noir 2009, Willamette Valley. The grapes for Archery Summit’s entry level pinot noir derive from five vineyards, including the producer’s top Arcus Estate, Red Hills Estate and Archery Summit Estate acreage. The wine aged 10 months in French oak, 46 percent new barrels. My first note is : “How lovely.” There’s real authority, authenticity and integrity here; the wine seethes with notes of black cherry, cola and cranberry layered over hints of rhubarb and cloves and a growing presence of briers and brambles. Flavors of black currants and plums, smoky oolong tea and mulberries harbor burgeoning earthiness and shale-like minerality, all ensconced in a luscious satiny texture balanced by bright acidity. 14.5 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2014 or ’15. Excellent. About $45.
Archery Summit Looney Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009, Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley. Ribbon Ridge is Oregon’s smallest American Viticultural Area, encompassing 3,350 acres of which 500 acres are planted to vines; the region, awarded AVA status in 2005, lies within the Chehalem Mountain AVA, which in turn lies within the broader Willamette Valley AVA. The Archery Summit Looney Vineyard Pinot Noir ’09 aged 11 months in French oak, 45 percent new barrels. Elevating aromas of red and black currants and plums with undertones of cranberry and blueberry are deeply infused with hints of cloves and cola, rhubarb, briers and slate. A haze of exotic, woody spices and sweet floral notes informs flavors of black and blue fruit flavors cushioned by silky tannins and a vibrant acid structure that gains more density as the moments pass. An authentic marriage of power and elegance. 14.5 percent alcohol. Now through 2015 to ’17. Excellent. About $85.
The 12-acre Renegade Ridge Vineyard, farmed by biodynamic methods since 2004, stands next to the Archery Summit Estate Vineyard in Willamette Valley’s Dundee Hills. The Archery Summit Renegade Ridge Pinot Noir 2009, Dundee Hills, aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 50 percent new, while, interestingly, 1/3 of it aged an additional 4 months. Does that process account for the wine’s unusually robust character and deep spicy elements, for this is a strapping, brawling pinot noir that one recognizes as pinot noir (one would not mistake it for syrah), but it exacts a price, subtracting some shades of meaning as it were, for its stalwart qualities. Do not look here for pinot’s fabled elegance and nuance, though this example certainly delivers an impressive snootful of powdered roses and violets, intense and concentrated black and red currants and plums and the whole redolent spice box of exoticism. 14.5 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2015 to ’17. Very Good+. About $85.
Fermented in traditional open-top wood vats and aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 56 percent new, the Archery Summit Red Hills Estate Pinot Noir 2009, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, is a deep, rich, savory pinot with intimations of iron and iodine and higher notes of sassafras and beet-root and rhubarb, cloves and licorice and spiced and macerated red and black currants and plums. Give the wine a few minutes in the glass, and it pulls up tons of brambles and briers and underbrush, giving it a firm, earthy (and then slate-like) dimension that cannot conceal a spirit of finesse and elegance; this is the sort of paradox that makes great wines infinitely expressive and interesting. To intensify the paradox, building from these aspects of dimension and detail, the wine concludes with a powerful, slightly woody and austere finish. Now through 2016 to ’18. Excellent. About $85.
Pure raspberry, black cherry and blueberry scents waft from a glass of the Archery Summit Arcus Estate 2009, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley. The wine fermented in a combination of open-top wood and stainless steel tanks and aged nine months in French oak, 70 percent new barrels. To that heady amalgam of bright fruit aromas are added notes of sour cherry and melon ball, cranberry and rhubarb, sweet Asian spices, mocha and rose petals. In terms of texture and structure, this is a robust, vibrant pinot noir that stops just shy of being syrah-like in opulence and earthy, graphite-tinged minerality, yet it never crosses the line, instead finding essential equilibrium in its seamless alliance of power and elegance; even the finish, for a large-framed wine, is supple and harmonious. Now through 2016 to ’19. Excellent. About $100.
The Archery Summit Estate Pinot Noir 2009, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, is a black and blue wine, by which I mean that the color is darkly radiant ruby/black with a violet tinge and the range of fruit scents and flavors is black cherry, black plum and blueberry, highlighted by rhubarb (o.k., rhubarb is neither black nor blue), licorice and pepper. The wine aged 10 months in French oak, 63 percent new barrels, and then an additional five months in older barrels. It’s broad and generous, a bit fleshy and macerated, yet firmly, almost rigorously structured by firm tannins, vibrant acidity and an undercurrent of graphite-like minerality; there’s an intriguing rooty, slightly vegetative component. This pinot was made in a fairly individual style, and while it’s more substantial than the pinots I adore — with that ineffable lightness of being wedded to essential earthiness — it’s quite remarkable for the manner in which it takes the grape to a singular stance, brooding yet selfless, of purity and intensity. Now through 2018 to ’20. Excellent. About $150.